Arizona rancher jailed in dispute over Grand Canyon Skywalk access

KINGMAN, Ariz. – The man who incurred the wrath of the Hualapai Indian tribe and many tourists by charging a toll to reach the Skywalk Grand Canyon West attraction over the Memorial Holiday weekend was arrested late Tuesday.

Mohave County Sheriff Tom Sheahan said Nigel Turner was taken into custody and jailed in Kingman for allegedly threatening, intimidating and harassing a construction worker.

Turner owns property traversed by Diamond Bar road off U.S. 93, which is the primary gateway for thousands of tourists who visit the “U”-shaped glass overhang affording a spectacular view of the Grand Canyon’s west end.

Turner owns and operates Grand Canyon Ranch, which caters to tourists seeking a Western experience, and has maintained that their enjoyment is compromised by traffic on Diamond Bar Road. A decade ago he sued to change the route, and a settlement reached in 2007 required completion of a new road more than a year ago.

Upset that construction of the new road is well behind schedule, Turner hired a security detail and began charging a toll of $500 per tour bus, or $20 per adult and $10 per child, during the busy Memorial Holiday weekend.

Leaders of the Hualapai tribe complained that Turner was literally engaged in “highway robbery” of unsuspecting tourists, some of them whom traveled hundreds of miles to be surprised by armed people demanding money. They’ve criticized Mohave County officials who have mostly stood idly by.

Sheahan said he dispatched deputies Tuesday afternoon after receiving reports that Turner had closed Diamond Bar Road. He said Turner and his employees were allowing people to leave the Skywalk but barring entry.

Sheahan later said Turner had been arrested at the new road construction site after a confrontation with a construction worker. When the worker told Turner that he lacked the legal authority to impose his will on the workers, Turner reportedly answered, ``I don’t need a Court order, I’ve got a gun.”


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